Rediscovering the Barbershop

by Brett on May 20, 2008 · 252 comments

in Dress & Grooming, Hair

Photo by LemonSunrise

For the past few months, I’ve been having my haircut at various barbershops. For most of my life, I went to unisex salons that reeked of perm chemicals and mousse. Every time I’d go, I’d walk away with a bad haircut. On top of that, I always felt out of place. Most of the clients were usually women and a woman was cutting my hair. I’d just go in, sit there silently while the person cut my hair, and leave.

I don’t know why I stopped going to a barbershop. As a child, I went to a barbershop on the main street in my hometown. It was called “The Friendly Barbershop.” I remember being fascinated with all the barber stuff. What I remember most though, was the distinct manliness of the place. Even as a young child, I could sense that a barbershop was a cool hang out for men. Twenty years later, I’m rediscovering the barbershop. You should too.

A Brief History of Barbershops

The 1880′s to the 1940′s were the golden age for barbershops. During this time, men socialized in all male hangouts, and barbershops rivaled saloons in popularity. Visiting the barbershop was a weekly, and sometimes daily habit. Men would stop in not only for a haircut and a shave, but also to fraternize with friends and chew the fat.

During this golden age, barbershops were classy places with often stunning surroundings. Marble counters were lined with colorful glass blown tonic bottles. The barber chairs were elaborately carved from oak and walnut, and fitted with fine leather upholstery. Everything from the shaving mugs to the advertising signs were rendered with an artistic flourish. The best shops even had crystal chandeliers hanging from fresco painted ceilings.

Despite this level of luxury, barbershops were homey and inviting. A memorable and heavenly man aroma filled the air. The smell of cherry, wintergreen, apple, and butternut flavored pipe and tobacco smoke mixed with the scent of hair tonics, pomades, oils, and neck powders. These aromas became ingrained in the wood and every cranny of the shop. The moment a man stepped inside, he was enveloped in the warm and welcoming familiarity. He was immediately able to relax, and as soon as the hot lather hit his face, his cares would simply melt away.

The Decline

Photo by Curtis!

The first blow to barbershops came in 1904 when Gillette began mass marketing the safety razor. Their advertisements touted the razor as more economical and convenient than visiting the barbershop. The use of safety razors caught on, and during World War I, the US government issued them along with straight razors to the troops. Having compared the two razors size by side, upon returning home from the front many soldiers discarded both the straight razor and their frequent trips to the barbershop. Going to the barber for a shave became a special occasion instead of a regular habit.

In the decades after WWI, several other factors combined to weaken the place of the barbershop in society. Companies like Sears began selling at-home haircutting kits, and mom began cutting Junior’s and Pop’s hair. Then the Depression hit, and people cut back on discretionary spending like barber shaves. The loss of male lives in the World and Korean wars also shrunk barbers’ pool of clientèle. Then in the 1960′s Beatlemania and the hippie culture seized the country, and hairstyles began to change. Men started to grow their hair longer and shaggier, and their visits to the barber became infrequent or non-existent.

Even when short hair came back into style during the 1980′s, men did not return en masse to the barbershop. Instead, a new type of hairdresser siphoned off the barbers’ former customers: the unisex salon. Places like “SuperCuts” which were neither beauty salons nor barbershops, catered to both men and women. Many states’ licensing boards accelerated this trend by ceasing to issue barber licenses altogether and instead issuing a unisex “cosmetologist” license to all those seeking to enter the hair cutting profession.

Why Every Man Should Go To A Barber Shop

Photo by Curtis!

A barber knows how to cut a man’s hair. If you’re like most men these days, you’re probably going to some unisex chain salon like Supercuts. I used to do it too. Most of the time, I’d walk out of these places with a crappy haircut. Sometimes, my haircut would look decent for the first week or so, but then it would grow out into a horrible bowl.

The problem is that many of the people who work at salons are not trained barbers. They’re cosmetologists. The difference between the two can spell the difference between a dopey-looking haircut and a great one.

A barber is trained to cut with clippers, the main tool in cutting a man’s hair. Cosmetologists, on the other hand, are trained to use scissors. Their training is also geared towards catering to women’s hair. They become experts in styling, coloring, and perming- things a man has no need for. That’s why when you ask the cute stylist at SuperCuts to use the number 2 on the clippers, you walk away with a bad haircut. She’s probably not well versed in how to use them. But a barber can employ the clippers with finesse.

It’s a great place to chew the fat with other men. When I went to hair stylists, I hardly ever talked to the woman who cut my hair. I’d chat about my family and theirs and that’s about it. The woman who cut my hair usually ended up chatting it with the other women in the salon, while I sat there awkwardly.

Barbers, on the other hand, are interesting guys with interesting stories to tell. On my visits to the barber shop, I’ve met a retried Army Ranger colonel, a musician who spent 13 years on the road in a jazz band, and a man who is the third generation in his family to take up the profession. Each of them had fascinating stories to share. And I in turn feel at ease to say what’s on my mind. There is conversation about politics, cars, sports, and family. Guys read the newspaper and comment on current events. In between the banter, jokes are told and laughs are had. And everyone is involved: the barbers, the customers getting their haircut, and the customers waiting to get their haircut. Adding to the enjoyment is that a variety of men take part in the conversation; young, old, and middle-aged join in the mix.

I think there’s a good argument that barbershops are among America’s last civic forums Where do people go today just to talk with others in the community? Coffee shops? Every time I go to a coffee shop, people are at their own tables minding their own business. The only other place that I can think of is a bar, but bars are now co-ed instead of being bastions of manliness. Graduate student, Melissa Harris-Lacewell, wrote an article about how discussions in traditionally black barbershops shape political ideas in the African-American community. She noted how political debate in barbershops can be vigorous and engages young and old alike. Unfortunately, white Americans are missing out on this experience. So, if you’re wanting to get your thumb on the pulse of civic life in your community, head over to the barbershop.

You can get a great shave. Many barbershops still give traditional single blade razor shaves. You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced the pleasures of a great shave at a barber. This past weekend, I went to a barber here in town to get a shave. I reclined in the plush old school barber chairs that had ash trays in the arm rests, a throw back to a time when people could smoke in public places. Then my shave commenced. The barber first wrapped a hot towel around my face. Next, the barber massaged in a lemon based cream to clean out my pores.

After that, several more hot towels were applied. By then, I was feeling nice and relaxed, on the verge of falling asleep relaxed. The barber then massaged in some cocoa butter to soften my beard. Next, the barber brushed a warm lather into my beard that smelled like man and not like that crappy artificial goo you buy in a can. The barber then took a piece of razor sharp metal and scraped my beard off for the closest, best shave I’ve ever had. Allowing another man to hold a razor to your neck is a good way to remind yourself that you’re alive.

To finish it all off, I got another hot towel wrapped on my face along with a final face massage with a soothing vanishing cream. When I stepped out of the shop, I felt like a new man, ready to take on the world.

It’s a great activity to do with your father or son. Men need traditions that can help bond them together. Visiting the barbershop with your father or son is a great tradition to begin in your family. Many men have been going to the same barber all their life and have introduced their sons to the same chair and the same barber. What a great way to bond with the men in your life!

You’ll feel manlier. Every time I go to the barber shop I just feel manlier. I don’t know what it is. Perhaps it’s the combination of the smell of hair tonics and the all-man atmosphere. But more so, it’s the awareness of the tradition of barbershops. Barbershops are places of continuity; they don’t change with the shifts in culture. The places and barbers look the same as they did when your dad got his hair cut. It’s a straightforward experience with none of the foofoo accouterments of the modern age. There are no waxings, facials, highlights, or appointments. Just great haircuts and great conversation.

When you walk out of the barber shop with a sharp haircut, you can’t help but feel a bit of manly swagger creep into your step. So next time you spot that familiar red and white striped pole, stop in. You’ll be glad you did.

Looking for a barbershop? Make sure to check out our barbershop locater. If you know of shop, please add it to the map.

{ 249 comments… read them below or add one }

201 hrfister July 2, 2013 at 11:13 pm

Once you find the right barber shop and the right barber, you won’t change barber shops or barbers. I’ve heard it say that a man who finds the right barber is more likely to change wives before he changes barbers. I myself have been going to the same barber for the last 14 years and will most likely continue to go to him until I die or until he retires….or dies.

202 Chris L. July 10, 2013 at 3:43 pm

As a kid, I went to a barber. Getting older, I went to a stylist. Then, I found a barber shop in my area… I haven’t looked back. I’ve moved forty minutes away, but I still go to my barber shop.

The whole experience is a bit of a throwback that is both charming and satisfying. The place feels a bit like a movie set–like a cliche–but it is so authentic.

I get a shave and a haircut and it costs almost nothing–compared to a stylist. They also will trim my eyebrows down, get rid of my ear hair (I sound charming, don’t I?). These are things the women stylists ignored.

I notice a lot of guys go in weekly to keep their hair just so.

And watching a dad come in with his mini-me? Charms me to no end.

I keep telling guys, it’s an experience and an excellent cut you will never find at a stylist.

203 Greg July 19, 2013 at 9:54 am

In the Tulsa area, you can’t find a better barbershop than the Indian Springs Barbershop at the south end of Elm in Broken Arrow. It’s totally old school and you shouldn’t be intimidated by the number of guys in there when you walk in; half of them are just hanging out. Every manly topic of conversation comes up at one time or another.

And on Tuesday nights, there’s a Bluegrass Jam that meets after hours – if you play an instrument that is.

204 J. Ford July 20, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Highly recommended. You get a true barber experience in the best meaning of the word.

205 Aaron July 23, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Just found Barber Dan’s in Portland, OR last month; great price and excellent haircut.

206 Marcos Chavez July 23, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Reading this, I remembered when my grandfather took me to a barbershop for my haircuts when i was a kid. I felt like a grown man!
I think i’m going to a barbershop in my next haircut, to remember that time. And to get a haircut like a man deserve.

207 Antonio July 23, 2013 at 11:04 pm

Does anyone know any good barber shops in the atlanta area?

208 Zeid August 2, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Guys, I need quick advice about haircut.
I got this pretty curly hair and pretty much all the barbershop I’m going just gave up what to do with it.

Any recommendation for decent hair cut type for my situation?

As I rarely found such a classy barber shop on my area.

Regards,

209 Corey Reynolds August 8, 2013 at 3:29 pm

I used to get my hair cut at a Barber Shop. I spent nearly 12 years in the Army, with the wonderful AFFES barbershops, and came home to find the old Barber Shop changed. They had raised thier prices through the roof and there was a crop of new “barbers” in there who a) did not seem to know their butts from a hole in the ground and b) were downright rude. I ended up going to these stupid “salon” things for years but I hate them. I recently found an old Barber Shop. It has the look and feel of a Barber Shop but they still charge through the nose and all of the “barbers” are Russian women! I will say, at least they have good manners and seem to know what they are about. I suppose I msut live with it until I find something better in Richmond, Virginia.

210 Mac August 8, 2013 at 9:32 pm

As a child, I was carried to the hair stylist by my mother… and if she got the hankering, she’d just cut it herself. I just stuck with the same hair stylist until I moved off to college.

After a few trips to the “chain” hairstylists in the college town, I decided to give a barber shop a try and completely loved the experience. The barber actually had family from my hometown 250 miles away. The atmosphere was relaxing and the conversation was entertaining in a masculine way. :)

When I moved back home from college, I went on a mission to find a barber. The barber shop I frequent now is a grandfather/grandson team. They do a great job. Have never had a face shave, but they do use a straight razor to shave the neck line and sideburns… was a little scary the first time (especially since the elder barber has some Parkinsonian tremors). I always look forward to getting a haircut at their shop.

211 Ben August 10, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Before the 1920′s people went to barbers more for a shave than a haircut. After safety razors their main job was so give men the fashion at the time-short back and sides haircuts. The decline of barbers from 1960 onwards happened because barbers had the wrong attitude at the time. They were a bunch of older men who scoffed at the long haired younger generation, often calling them girls/gay and only giving short haircuts and not being flexible with the new fashion. So it was the barbers fault as much as anyone else.

212 Mark August 22, 2013 at 6:06 am

I used to only ever go to the same barber, but he retired and sold the shop to a unisex salon. I went once, hated the cut and never went back.

When I was best man at my cousins wedding 7 of us went for a wet shave and haircut (we paid over the odds and tipped well for him to open at 7:30) on the morning of the wedding. It was JUST like you described above. THe smell, the conversation, the feel. We all make a point to go back as a group once a month. We have our haircuts, go for a beer, then all head home to wives and children. But for those 2 hours we’re in the shop and the bar, we’re all living like our dads, their dads and even their dads.

213 Will August 22, 2013 at 9:08 am

Except for a brief interlude in the early 80′s when I was still young and gullible enough to want to be “trendy” and started going to Supercuts, I’ve had the same barber for 36 years. He’s moved once and his prices are a lot higher in his newer upscale shop, but he still cuts hair better than any of those chop-shots folks.

It’s just a two-chair barbershop–he’s got 5 chairs, but just him and his daughter cut hair . . . occasionally, he will let a barber take a third chair, but they never last very long.

214 Drew September 4, 2013 at 1:41 pm

I’ve always used barbers, I was lucky enough to discover a great ‘old fashioned barber in Great Yarmouth (PJs) where I grew up, my friends and I would get all our hair cuts there, when we were at art school in the 1980s, the best short back and sides in town. The shop was full of old shoving/ barbering paraphernalia. I later went to Brighton School of art and discovered a great barber there, he was a former RAF tail gunner. He used to give the best 1940s hair cut not much else, all cut with clippers and a cut throat razor. I know get my hair cut from an Egyptian barber in my home town. Why would you go to a salon?

215 Bob September 12, 2013 at 8:58 am

My Father and Grandfather always had a motto that I came to believe was “no hair left standing” with regards to hair style and until I left college, never realized that there were other choices.

Having tried a lot of “other choices”, I am back to the old neighborhood barbershop (thank God there is one), and am very pleased that my new barber, clippers in hand, knows without asking how I want my haircut.

216 Greg September 24, 2013 at 10:37 am

A buddy just re-opened his dad’s shop, he’s a 3rd gen barber, here in Tulsa. Visited yesterday, it was great to get back in a real chair. I’ve been playing the SuperCuts lottery far too long. If you’re in town, check out Gill’s Barber Shop.

217 Stephen September 24, 2013 at 4:04 pm

I went to a barber for the first time about a week ago. I’m only 14, but I was still fascinated with the manly atmosphere. Manly items hung from the walls, and a manly cut was received as well. I hope I can make it back to the barber before my mom gets to me with her scissors!

218 Steve October 2, 2013 at 3:47 am

Great article. I enjoyed it, and so did my barber (I printed it for him).
Here’s another interesting article about why men should go to a real barber. It’s a little crude in spots, and the writer has a bit of an agenda (apparently had a bad divorce…wait a minute, is they’re any such thing as a GOOD divorce?!), but makes its point and I think I’d nevertheless worth the read:
http://www.avoiceformen.com/men/a-memory-of-a-barber/

219 shawnboy October 5, 2013 at 8:26 am

I have been going to real barbershops since my first hair cut .I tried the Great clips , Supercuts , etc never have been really happy with the results .On my wedding day 30+ years ago I went to my local guy Bernie of Bernie’s Penn lake barber shop. i had the straight razor shave ,nice tight hair cut and the best part the massage with the vibrating device they wear on their hand.Boy Howdy!what a way to start your wedding day. Now almost 32 years later my 2 adult sons and I still go once a month and bask in the glow of this bastion of manliness.And by the way still married to the same Gal .

220 Ryan October 15, 2013 at 1:07 pm

My most favorite barbershop memory of all time: Having an Argentine tango played on the accordion as I sat in the chair in a small out of the way barbershop in a small out of the way town in Argentina. I was in Argentina for two years for my church and I was assigned to this little town called Rufino. I had gotten haircuts at a few different places. One of the barbers I had seen was this really stuck-on-himself kind of guy, I didn’t like him. So we are out walking around an I notice this sign for a barber. I needed a cut by that time, so we went in.

It was this really nice middle aged gentleman who ran the place. We got to talking while I was in the chair. He mentioned that he taught accordion at a local school, and he told us a little about some of his students. Then he asked if I had ever heard a tango. I said, not really, so he pulled out a music stand, showed me the music, pulled out his accordion and played a tango right there with me in the chair. It was the coolest thing ever. After he finished the tango, he picked up his scissors, he was working the top, finished up and ended everything with a good straight razor neck shave. I think I payed less than 15 pesos for that haircut. It was great. It wasn’t long after that I was assigned somewhere else so I didn’t get to go back.That one haircut still stands out.

221 Karma October 18, 2013 at 9:56 pm

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that you simply shared this useful information with us.

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222 Ryan October 20, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Hm, interesting info. I sport the hippie look, so haircuts are something I can quite easily do by myself every six months or so. I had no idea other guys were getting haircuts so often!

Been told a number of times, from a number of sources, to go get a straight razor shave at least once. Perhaps someday, but at present I can’t imagine anything being relaxing enough to make me willing to let a stranger put a knife to my throat.

223 porkchop October 21, 2013 at 12:19 pm

A barbery rates just behind a house of worship and ahead of a diner as a place of calm in a troubled world. No problem is so large that it cannot be faced down with professionally trimmed mustache and eyebrows and a flawlessly executed businessman’s cut. A good barbery is full of laughter, good will, and banter; discussions earnest and light to which all can and should contribute but none should take too seriously.

The absolute worst time in a man’s life is probably finding a new barber after relocating. How, after viewing his new found colleague’s haircuts, does a fellow tell them that their barbers appear unskilled? An able worker should be able to at least manage a draw.

224 Rev Dizzle October 25, 2013 at 8:59 am

The Friendly Barbershop in Edmond, Oklahoma mentioned in the article is still going strong… my 3 1/2 yr old foster son and I go there and are VERY pleased!!

225 Schmitty November 8, 2013 at 10:52 am

Unbeknownst to a lot of people who visit Seattle’s Pike Place market, the market is home to a great barbershop. Let the wife and kids check out the different stalls while you peel off to experience a true man’s barbershop. Seriously, don’t bring your wife and kids into the shop.

226 Thomas November 12, 2013 at 3:53 pm

I have been going to the same barber for years and when he told me that his landlord had given him notice on the lease for the shop as he had found out that he was 65 (retirement age here in Switzerland) I
thought that this would be the end. He then told me that he would offer myself and about 40 other customers a home service. The world was in order again. I now have one of his old hydraulic chairs in my garage between my 1963 Studebaker and work bench and he comes once a month to cut my hair and to chat. There is nothing better. Not in this town anyway. Thomas

227 Browny November 25, 2013 at 8:44 am

My Grandfather and Dad found a lovely local Italian barber, Aldo, over 40 years ago, before I was even born. I was taken there as a child for haircuts, and take my 10 year old son there for haircuts also. Aldo is now in his 70′s, still giving great cuts and his son Louis has been a partner in the shop for 10 years. Together they’ve cut four generations of Brown mens hair, and have been a part of my life for over 30 years. You just don’t get that anywhere else. Still my favourite place to take my son, shoot the breeze, have a laugh as well as some well needed male only time

228 Raymond November 26, 2013 at 11:13 am

Found the hole topic very interesting as I myself am a barber in Scotland.and it has to be said that the same problems exist here as they do in America.mostly down to the saftey razor and lack of ambition to keep upto date with the modern styles the modern barber finds it tough more so with a recession on and I don’t mean your getting bald.:-D Lol.

229 Fred December 5, 2013 at 2:11 pm

I haven’t been to the barbershop in 6 years. Just do a buzz cut myself. $3000 dollars in my pocket.

230 Marc December 9, 2013 at 12:57 pm

The barber I used to frequent retired and the people who took over the shop changed it into more of a salon than a barbershop. I found a place called GHQ. The barbers are all women, but they have an exclusively male clientele. Pleasant, calming experience. The basic cut includes a beer (water or coffee if you prefer), a hot towel for your face, a hair wash and scalp massage after your haircut, hot towel and neck shave (with a straight razor). Before I found this place, I was getting my haircut about once every 4-6 months at supercuts. Now I have an appointment at the beginning of every month.

231 Ethan December 17, 2013 at 10:44 pm

I would love to experience an old time barbershop, but I wouldn’t get a shave. Historically, some considered men who went to a barber for a shave instead of doing in themselves were actually “unmanly” and could lead to loss of job.

232 Abiodun Saka January 1, 2014 at 11:25 pm

Good to be a barber when you know actually what you love to be doing without stress. I found my self doing it because during my apprenticeship I was looking at my master the second they I started barbing people so the desire for some thing and you wont just relent like that many things will come up that will not want you to become who God has predestined you to be the only way to be that person is by been focus,determine and dont relent in what you have started keeping doing it and perfection will come out of you without stress. This is the time you would find out that hand will bring people to you and your ways of attending to customers also matters and goes a long places so your place of work most be clean at all time after a cut clean u the floor it might be by sweeping or mopping the floor as well any one make sure your customers are always happy coming to your shop to relax by using the opportunity of sharing their pains or things that troubles them. Barbers shop should be a place to welcome people to add beautity and give them a nice cut with an handsome and beautiful look so be berry careful the ways at wish you are holding your device for cutting hair to learn more mail me @ abbeyzak@yahoo.com or add me on my facebook Saka Abiodun Luke. see you soon.

233 Chino January 7, 2014 at 2:22 am

i love to cut my hair in barbershop not saloon.
barber know how to cut mens hair. :)

234 Terrance January 9, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Ah! I remember when I went in to get a cut and the barbers son go out school and came in with a scooter and did tricks and stuff it had a way more chill vibe than a supercuts or what ever. Also watching Blue Mountain State inside was nice.

235 celana chino January 9, 2014 at 9:57 pm

Good to be a barber when you know actually what you love to be doing without stress. I found my self doing it because during my apprenticeship I was looking at my master the second they I started barbing people so the desire for some thing and you wont just relent like that many things will come up

236 Craig H January 17, 2014 at 9:47 am

I visit a Turkish barber named Allein. I usually take my son too. There is a language barrier to contend with but I always take the time to get to know him.
He always remove ear and nose fuzz with a burning taper too. When I first saw him lighting up and coming towards me I was like “What the hell are going to burn with that?”; I’m used to it now. He always concludes the session with a spray of cologne. His barbershop smells great.

237 David Rojo January 19, 2014 at 6:28 pm

I love going to a traditional mens barber. Thing is there are far and few in-between. The barber I go to now is a modern day traditional barber shop. The barber is Salvatore who is obviously italian, young around my age mid 30s. He does straight shaves regularly but I haven’t done it yet. Great haircut and european soccer is almost always on. Great article.

238 BC January 22, 2014 at 3:27 pm

Well written! I only go to barber shops to get my haircut. Like the author, I’ve had a few chain salon cuts, and they’re uniformly terrible. There’s absolutely nothing like visiting a barber shop, not only because of the high-quality cut but also due to the conversation and the general atmosphere.

239 Travis Russell January 24, 2014 at 1:45 am

This is really a well written post and captures the sentiment that we all look for beyond the materialistic salons that seem to be the only option these days. The closest I have had to this experience is when I travel for work to our district office. There is a traditional barbershop where you can walk in for an appointment, sit and read the newspaper while eavesdropping on the conversation between the barber and the customer ahead of you and even smirk or comment if you so choose to join in on the conversation. It is a place with traditional leather and brass chairs that when you sit down you know you are getting a man’s haircut. When you sit down in the chair you feel you can talk to the barber about anything from where you work to where you go to church, without apology or excuse. I enjoyed being able to sit and wait and not feel uncomfortable due to the overwhelming smell of perfumes and hair products, where men can converse as men do. To top it all off, it is directly across the street from a flat front hardware store with hardwood floors and everything a hardware store should have, from tools and twine to hunting and fishing equipment.

240 Chris January 25, 2014 at 1:45 pm

I remember going to a real barbershop when I was a kid. I vividly remember the ashtrays on the arms of the barber chair and the conversations, the smell of men and their vices and their tonics, shave creams…..man, I missed it for a very long time. I moved about 150 miles away after college and looked for one after that. After I got married and we moved to a new place, I fell into the trap. A flourish of Great Clips franchises opened up around us. I am balding and wear my hair short for work, so I figured, what the heck? Why worry about it? My wife and I took our daughter and our son there and that was all they knew. It was all HE knew!

Then, one day, a place opened up near us and I saw a barber pole outside! It even lit up and spun like the ones I grew up with. I ventured in one day and met my barber, Kevin. He’s a little younger than me but he had his Barber School diploma hanging right there by the mirror, behind the barbicide, and to the right of the Clubman Pinaud powder container. I sat down and he offered me a drink….water, soft drink….or beer! Oh yeah! He started by asking what size guard I wanted and I knew I was definitely in the right place. He finished with the clippers and went to finish with scissors. Then he tipped me back over the sink and started the water while he got a hot towel and placed it over my face. I got a wash and then he shaved the back of my neck with a cut throat razor. Awesome!

Well, I took my son later that week and explained to him before going in what it means for a man to get his haircut in a different place than the girls. He now talks to Kevin like he was a familiar friend, which he is now, I guess. My mother visited one week and she got instructions to take him to get a haircut from my wife. My mother, making sure, asked if it was the Great Clips a few blocks over. My son, before my wife could say anything, said “No Grandmother. I go to a barbershop now where men go.”

It’s in a new shopping center and the prices aren’t what they are in many smaller town barbershops, but I don’t mind paying for a quality cut and great experience. I can drop in anytime for Kevin to clean up the back of my neck for free. I may go for the $26 shave with the straight razor for my birthday. At that price it is once a year, but I look forward to it.

241 Jon January 28, 2014 at 9:50 pm

Sometime after I got out of the Navy I started going to my grandfather’s barber for $5 cuts. In August of ’96 the conversation was naturally the presidential election coming up that November. The talk started about Bob Dole and made it all the way back to Truman (a lot of old timers). One gentleman said “Truman saved my life” then he went on to explain how he had been in the Marines on some South Pacific island training in preparation for invading Japan when Truman dropped the bomb. What history in the barbershop. I now live two hours away and have another old barber here with more great stories.

242 tas kulit February 9, 2014 at 8:07 pm

Sometime after I got out of the Navy I started going to my grandfather’s barber for $5 cuts. In August of ’96 the conversation was naturally the presidential election coming up that November.

243 Walter February 15, 2014 at 1:08 pm

I well remember going to an old school barber in the early 1980s when I was real tired of unisex salons and long hair. The old guy said to me that it wasn’t too often a young guy came in asking for a 1940s haircut (I was 24) This was a real old barbershop on Market Street in San Francisco. Yeah guys, a straight old line clientele, believe it or not. I wanted a short business cut for going to work downtown. Never again have I gone to a salon or anything approaching it.
Since I’ve always gone to shops that are traditional and have found that women barbers (I’ve had a few when they were working in them) didn’t know how to do conservative traditional men’s haircuts. Sexist, I know, but I’ve had more that one male barber say the same thing.
Anyway, I chalk it up to my Dad, WWII Navy who always had my brothers and I wearing short hair even in the 1960s.
I’m real glad it’s back and hope it’s here to stay.

244 blah blah March 1, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Call me minimalist, but I prefer to shave & haircut myself. A safety razor in the shower, and a set of clippers with guards for a 10 minute cut. I get the satisfaction of doing it all myself, save my money, and feel like a self-sufficient man.

245 Madden March 3, 2014 at 7:52 am

Unfortunately for me, my childhood barber suffered a stroke and has retired. His daughter took over and lets just say she can’t cut mens hair if her life depended on it.

Now I’m not trying to be over dramatic for effect or anything, but losing a skilled barber who has been cutting your hair for a good 20 odd years is like losing a family member!

246 Erica March 5, 2014 at 10:10 am

I love the article! A lot of places like Great Clips and all sorts of shops like that have taken a big part of the barber shop clients which has made them harder to come by. I actually own my own barber shop in New York and have it all set up like we’re in a real Barber shop back in the day! You should come check out our site just to know there are still some GREAT barbers out there! Good luck to you and everyone else looking for a great new barber if you current one is retiring or just retired!

247 Scott March 22, 2014 at 7:23 pm

About 15 years ago a friend and I found a barber shop on State Street in Santa Barbara one day. We didn’t have the time or money ($7.00 at the time) so we went back a week later. It was amazing! I didn’t need to shave again for almost a week.
If you find one that does shaves, GO! You’ll never forget it.

248 Brian March 26, 2014 at 4:42 pm

I remember the barber shop my Great Grandfather took me to as a young lad and I never went to another shop till he retired, It was a small place with one barbers chair and about six or seven chairs in a semi circle around it, The place was heated by a wood stove in the corner, the barber smoked a pipe, he had animal mounts that he hunted hung all over the walls, he had a full complement of barbers tools including a vacuum machine to suck the cut hairs out of your hair, everyone got a shave unless you told him not to. Every thing cost $2,$3 with the shave, but everyone paid him $5 for the great work he did. It wasnt till I was married and he retired that I actually had to talk to the person cutting my hair about how to cut it. My first time at a salon I walked out because when I sat down the girl asked me how I wanted my hair cut, and I told her if you dont know how to cut a mans hair your not touching me. Still looking for a good barber shop around where I live now, I miss everything about it

249 Sahil Dhaliwal April 4, 2014 at 8:02 pm

My father has refused to take me anywhere other than a men’s barber shop for 15 years. That is where I learned respect, fortitude, and what are stupid things to say. The one day I went for a hair cut with my mother, I learned the amount of blood that flows through a single earlobe.

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